Merkel urges 'respectful dialogue' in Turkey after referendum

The deputy leader of Turkey's opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) on Monday called for the results of a referendum agreeing new powers for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be annulled.

What has come as the biggest setback to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his bid to grant sweeping powers to himself is the statement of global observers that the April 16 referendum was contested on an unequal playing field.

"The tight referendum result shows how deeply divided Turkish society is and that means a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally".

Turkey's referendum campaign was conducted on an "unlevel playing field", according to worldwide observers.

After casting his vote in a school near his home in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said: "God willing I believe our people will decide to open the path to much more rapid development".

"April 16 is the victory of all who said "yes" or 'no, ' of the whole 80 million, of the whole of Turkey", Erdogan told reporters in a live televised address. During the referendum campaign, Ankara's relations soured with some European countries, notably Germany and the Netherlands.

Furthermore, the amendments stipulate that the Turkish president will head the government and will be granted the power to appoint ministers or replace them.

They set a limit of two five-year terms for presidents and also allow the president to remain at the helm of a political party.

But opponents questioned the validity of the vote, calling for a recount and challenging a last minute decision by the electoral authorities to allow ballots to be counted that were not stamped by election officials.

Though the report praised the orderly and thorough casting of ballots, it noted features of the campaign and the voting itself that fell short of what it described as worldwide conventions to which Turkey itself has signed on.

As tremendous hordes of banner waving supporters celebrated in the city, Erdogan applauded Turkey for taking a "noteworthy choice".

More than 55 million people were registered to vote, while another 1.3 million expatriates cast ballots overseas. Erdogan said turnout was estimated at 86 percent, which he described as proof of the strength of Turkish democracy. Moreover, it said the work of the electoral boards lacked transparency.

The opposition had already complained of an unfair campaign that saw the "yes" backers swamp the airwaves and use up billboards across the country in a saturation advertising campaign.

Turkey's lira firmed to 3.65 to the dollar in Asian trade following the referendum, from 3.72 on Friday.

Opposition parties have expressed deep concerns over concentration of power in the office of the Presidency arguing it will cause the country to lurch further towards authoritarianism and one-man rule. "Under the state of emergency put in place after the July 2016 failed coup attempt, fundamental freedoms essential to a genuinely democratic process were curtailed".

"Certainly, this referendum will mark the beginning of a new stage in the history of your brotherly country and reinforce the worldwide role and standing of a stable and powerful Turkey", Ilham expressed.

  • Leroy Wright